Posted: 22nd October 2013

Big data is the buzz word of late. Firms with large customer bases, especially in financial services, use this forecasting power to predict volumes of sales, claims, complaints and other circumstances where customers act on mass. Yet, where predictions fail, firms still find themselves with resource shortfall because it is not proportionate to keep employees on hand for all expected and unexpected circumstances. The challenge, whether foreseeable or not, is this: how can you maintain excellent service at crucial points of customer contact or business change?

Regulatory drivers

Where the regulator requires a firm to contact customer segments on mass by post, for example, this requires extra resource and we can expect that those customers may wish to respond or ask questions. This may be the first contact your firm has had with your customer in months or years: are you ready to provide the high level service the customer expects?

Firms can prepare for this, based on past experience in response rates, and flex resource to include skilled contractors to enhance customer experience and prevent a short fall in service. When the influx decreases, the resource can be wound down again to usual business level requirement.

Competition drivers

As retail banking moves towards a more competitive model through seven day bank account switching, new deadlines and technological investments must be held together with well trained and appropriate people. Contractors may be appropriate for predictable increases in switches, both to and from firms.

Your people must not only be present; they must be ready. Training your customer contact staff to be ready for your old and new customers’ inevitable questions may be the difference between a net gain and net loss of customers in this more competitive banking world.

If staff handling switches are well prepared through training, technology and resource, the number of successful switches increases. However, where those increased switches are unsuccessful – due to errors, time scale failures or low quality service – your firm may expect an increase in complaints. This cycle – change in service associated with new time scales, risk of failure within those time scales and complaints as a consequence – is one firms know occurs but planning for this cycle is often missed.

Business requirements

Customer contact aside, when change occurs within your firm the show must go on. Anti-money laundering checks cannot be halted whilst a change of location or new company structure settles in. For example, where there is a short fall of permanent resource able to shift with your firm, your sanctions and fraud checking can be maintained short term through contracted, skilled resource. Firms can augment current teams or entirely outsource these functions to maintain “business as usual”.

British weather

The one thing you cannot rely upon is the weather… Insurers do not have the luxury of always being able to predict when claims will come pouring in.

For these situations, and all other last minute requirements of resource, firms should consider flexing capacity to maintain service levels. Firms using this approach maintain a core of employees to handle “business as usual” claims, complaints and customer contact – in or outbound, adding skilled contractors for days, weeks or however long they are required.

When firms know in advance, or at the last moment, that larger demand is coming, we can advise how many skilled contractors, at which rate and for how long they are required to handle the extra demand across the UK.

Whether or not big data analysis can help to predict regulatory, competition or the weather demands on your services to rise, the challenge to resource your business and customers’ requirements must still be met. Using flexible, skilled resource when customers join, leave or contact your business enables you to continue to provide best service for your customers, especially at those crucial points of contact.

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